Ryan Conklin tapped as the beer-whisky chief of Argyll and Griffin, Robert Thompson's new ventures
Lori Midson Local master of beer Ryan Conklin.
Sergio Romero, John Broening, Anika Zappe, Andrew Parr -- all big, bold industry heavyweights who have shared in the success of restaurateur Robert Thompson, owner of Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar and Punch Bowl - Social Food & Drink , which originated in Denver and now has a second location in Portland and two more on the horizon in Austin and Detroit. And with Thompson's forthcoming openings of Argyll Whisky Beer in Uptown and Griffin, a German beer hall in RiNo (3001 Brighton Boulevard), he's adding two more prominent names to the staff lineup: beer monarch Ryan Conklin and front-of-house duke Steve Kingsbury.
Conklin, a certified Cicerone (that's suds-speak for a super-high-achieving beer master), who's put in several years of experience behind the bars of numerous local restaurants, including Euclid Hall, Old Major, Colt & Gray, Ste. Ellie and Sweet Basil in Vail, will oversee the beer and whisky programs at both Argyll (slated to open in mid-May) and Griffin, which will uncork, says Thompson, "pre-Oktoberfest."
"We're showing a unique commitment to the integrity of both beer programs -- and to staff education -- and there's no one in this market or, I would argue, outside of this market, who has as much passion for beer as Ryan does," insists Thompson, who admits that he did cast his gaze further afield, albeit for less than a second. "We briefly looked outside Colorado, but we quickly realized that we had the best talent right outside our back door," he notes, adding, too, that Conklin is currently "slinging drinks" behind the bar of Punch Bowl, biding his time until Argyll opens.
The beer program at Argyll, reveals Thompson, will accent twenty taps, all of which will be devoted to "British and old-world-style Colorado beers." In addition, he'll have another 20 to 25 beers by the bottle; a cask-conditioned ale; "robust ciders," both on draft and by the bottle; beer-and-whisky flights served on wooden boards bolstered by tasting notes chalked by the bartenders; a cellar program, which will allow brew geeks to sip the same beer from a vertical of different vintages; and a reserve beer list.
Argyll's whisky syllabus, says Thompson, will highlight the "most-balanced and high-quality whisky program in Colorado," and the 110-seat space, he adds, will also have its own whisky library. "We're still working on how many whiskeys we'll eventually have, and Ryan is spending a lot of time immersing himself; he's becoming a whisky ambassador," notes Thompson.
While Conklin concentrates on beer and whisky, Patrick Williams, whose home turf is behind the stick at Punch Bowl, will consult on designing "everything else outside of Ryan's domain," says Thompson, adding that he's looking to hire a bar manager at Argyll, a bar manager, he shares, "who might potentially be tapped to run the bar program at Griffin, too."